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Ireland’s gorgeous green landscapes, ancient castles and lively pub scene have made it a popular choice for US travelers. It’s become a mecca for road trippers the world over, too, thanks to its relatively small land area. And then there are, of course, its amazing cities like Belfast and Dublin, or out-of-this world attractions such as the Cliffs of Moher and Giant’s Causeway.

As magical as Ireland is, however, a number of potential pitfalls can throw a wrench into your travel plans. Follow these simple suggestions to avoid them—and, indeed, to take your Ireland road trip to the next level.

RELATED: Ireland’s top 10 sights to see


Is it automatic? The lack of air conditioning in Irish rental cars often alarms prospective travelers, but once you experience your first summer day here (spoiler alert: it won’t be warm), the shock will quickly wear off. A more pressing concern, if you don’t drive stick shift, is making sure you get a vehicle with automatic transmission, something you can take care of in one click when you rent your car through Orbitz. After conducting the initial search, use the filter options on the left-hand side of the navigation bar and check the box marked “automatic transmission.”

Less car is more In addition to choosing a car with a transmission that suits your driving skills, you should select one that’s appropriate for Ireland’s roads. They’re often narrow, so pick the smallest car that can still accommodate everyone you’re traveling with and their luggage.

Don’t get metricked Another quirk to keep in mind is that while Ireland-proper measures speed in kilometers per hour, Northern Ireland uses miles. If your car doesn’t display speeds using both units, practice your conversion skills before getting behind the wheel (1 mile = 6/10 kilometer).

Look right Lastly, as you probably know, the Irish drive on the left side of the road and pass on the right just like in England. While in principle this is a pretty basic concept, it’s harder than you think to retrain your reflex to look left and then right when crossing an intersection.

Sunset at Dingle Peninsula


Curate your itinerary Ireland looks small on the map, but seeing all of it can take weeks or even months, due both to its narrow roads, as well as the sheer quantity of amazing places to see. If you can devote just three days to driving the Wild Atlantic Way, for example, you can see either the Dingle Peninsula or the Iveragh Peninsula and the Cliffs of Moher, but probably not the Kerry Cliffs, as well.

Make reservations Another important consideration to make as you plot out your Ireland road trip itinerary is that some destinations are capacity-limited. The most notorious of these is Skellig Michael island, made famous by its inclusion in the latest “Star Wars” films. So-called “landing” tours, which allow you to disembark and hike to the peak of the island, often fill up months in advance, so book yours as early as possible. Note: “The Last Jedi” was also partially filmed in Ireland so tourism is likely to increase.

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The Slieve League cliffs in Co. Donegal in Ireland


It really is about the journey Ireland, perhaps more than any other country, embodies the old saying that “travel is about the journey, not the destination.” Another advantage of committing yourself to just a few destinations is that you’ll have more opportunities for unexpected discoveries along the road. These fall into two basic categories.

Give less-visited sights a chance The first sort occurs within cities and towns you’re already visiting. For example, while attractions like Kilkenny Castle and St. Canice’s Cathedral are the focus of most visitors to Kilkenny, those in a rush can never happen upon hidden treasures such as the gorgeous Rothe House & Gardens. Taking the long way from Donegal’s Avalon House B&B to the dramatic Slieve League cliffs, meanwhile, allows you to experience the magnificent Glengesh Pass.

Look out for unexpected wonders On the other hand, some of the most surprising places in Ireland are ones you can never anticipate. You’ll do a double-take as you drive along the country’s northern coast and behold beaches in Mullaghamore and Sligo, whose powdery sand, turquoise waters and bright sunshine might deceive you into thinking you’ve accidentally detoured to the Mediterranean.

Cobh is a harbour town in County Cork, Ireland.


Book early for the best stay In spite of being a hot destination for decades, Ireland offers a limited quantity of hotels. Browsing Irish hotels available through Orbitz, such as The Kingsley in Cork and Quayside B&B in Dingle along the Wild Atlantic Way or the Waterford Castle Hotel in Waterford, can both ensure you find a nice place to stay, as well as provide inspiration for your Ireland road trip before you’ve finalized your itinerary.

Search around for bargains The quality of Irish accommodation can also leave something to be desired, particularly if your budget isn’t huge. While the Georgian houses you find near Dublin are some of the world’s most celebrated lodgings, it’s not uncommon to see them go for $300+ per night during the summer high season. Book early via Orbitz and you could you turn up a few pretty Georgians for under $100.

Follow these tips, and you won’t stress much about your Ireland road trip or miss all the rainbows and pots of gold!

Tagged: Ireland

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Robert Schrader
Robert is a writer and photographer who's spent the better part of the past decade roaming the globe. Read hundreds of inspiring, informative travel articles on his blog Leave Your Daily Hell, or see the world through his eyes on Instagram, where he's @leaveyourdailyhell.

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